Wed Aug 21st, 2013
Jeremy Wade Shockley
The Southern Ute Drum
Students from the three Ute tribes convened in Orem, Utah, for the second Tri-Ute Youth Leadership Conference Aug. 4-8, hosted this year by the Northern Ute Indian Tribe.
Set at Utah Valley University, students were given opportunities for team building and leadership exercises while experiencing university campus life.
Southern Ute Education Department Teacher Michael Kirsch, who helped chaperone the conference, said it was both an educational success and a good time for participants.
“Kids told me they really had a good time,” he said. “Students were able to create bonds with [peers] from other tribes.”
Faculty members Ken Sekequaptewa and Kumen Louis, Native American specialists, helped to organize the event around the campus. Students also made an excursion to the Provo Airport, where they received a tour of the UVU Aviation Science School and the Utah Fire and Rescue Academy.
Facilitators encouraged students to consider the opportunities available at UVU as they make their transitions to college.
Southern Ute keynote speaker Philman Lopez opened the second day by asking “What does leadership mean to you?”
Lopez worked his way through the students in a packed auditorium, encouraging them to contemplate the meaning of leadership.
“It takes a lot of courage just to step off the reservation and be here,” Lopez said.
Ute Mountain Ute Vice-Chairman Bradley Hight said the most important part of the conference was the opportunity it offered students to learn more about who they are.
“Being able to communicate and make decisions as a people — together,” he said.
Southern Ute Education Director La Titia Taylor emphasized respect for each other when addressing the students on Tuesday, Aug. 6. She lauded the choice of UVU for the conference, citing its admissions department and the wealth of educational opportunities available.
“The UVU staff really pulled together,” Taylor said. “Kids raved about the campus tour.”
Cultural presentations filled the workshop curriculum, with Ute elders sharing information on tribal history, the Bear Dance, hand games and the round dance.
“I liked that we brought members from the Ignacio community to give presentations. I would like to see that continue. It helped the students make that connection to the tribe,” Kirsch said.
Ute Mountain Ute elder Terry Knight declared “Our proving ground has changed” in a message to young men during a rights-of-passage workshop.
In a Bear Dance session, Northern Ute Bear Dance Chief AJ Kanip told the students that a leader always has positive thoughts.
“I think the exposure is the best part,” said Ellen Baker, Southern Ute education specialist. “It is also an opportunity to gain perspective for [options] after high school.”
The Tri-Ute conference, although organized this year by the Northern Ute Tribe, is equally funded by all three tribes. The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe will host the next conference.
University student and Hopi-Chemehuevi hoop dancer Carl Moore offered a dance demonstration and lesson on Monday, Aug. 5.
“I encourage you to dance from your heart,” he said. “Don’t dance for yourself, but for others.”